Sometimes life doesn't always go the way you thought it would. You fall in love at a young age, think you met the love of your life, plan out your future forever. The wrench in the middle is that the relationship was toxic. You had rules and guidelines that resembles a parent/child relationship not a romantic relationship. I'm learning a new normal, slowly and surely I'm figuring out what it feels like to be loved by someone with no expectations. It may take some time, but I'll always appreciate all that my new relationship has to offer.
I smile. When I tell you that I forgot what it looked like and felt like to genuinely smile, believe me. I don't have to put on a smile to convince everyone, including myself, that I'm happy. There's no faking it, there's no covering up the pain. My face hurts constantly from smiling as much as I have been. I laugh constantly, deep belly laughs that bring me to tears at times.
I'm my own person. Brandon (my boyfriend) likes to refer to me as a "free range Bailey". I can have my own thoughts and feelings, my own friends, my own actions. I don't have to "ask permission" to get my hair done. I don't have to check in every so often when I'm with my friends. I can express my thoughts and feelings knowing that everything will be okay.
I am validated. There have been a couple times where my anxiety has kicked into overdrive. Where my body was shaking or I started tapping my leg. I wasn't told that anxiety isn't real or that I was being dramatic or overreacting. Instead we talked, I let all my feelings out, explained why I was feeling the way I was. Brandon just held me and gave me all the time I needed to calm down, even distracted me if that's what I needed.
We're open and honest. I don't have to worry about secrets or being blindsided. We tell each other pretty much everything, sometimes things I really don't want to know about his past. I never have to question what he's thinking or if I can ask him about something from his past. Part of this open and honest policy is that there is ZERO judging. To make sure we stay open and honest we have to respect each other.
I see my friends and family. The other day Brandon and I were snapchatting some of my friends, and all together it hit me. Here's a boy who wants to meet my friends, and get along with my friends. He understands how important it is to know the people who matter most to me. Last weekend, we went to my moms house and met some of my siblings. We spent hours there, there was no "when can we leave" or "we can't stay long". We just relaxed and bonded, let him see who I was with my family. I'm "allowed" to have a relationship with someone other than him. I can tell my friends and family anything and everything without being worried it'll upset Brandon.
There's so much I'm relearning, so much questioning "what's normal and healthy and what isn't". I can be myself and laugh. I don't have to worry about what is and isn't acceptable in Brandons eyes because he just wants me to be me.
In the back of my head I'm waiting. Waiting for the shoe to drop, waiting for this to turn into exactly what I'm use to. In the back of my head I refuse to admit that I can be happy without having it slap me in the face. I'm trying, I'm trying really hard to remember that I can and I do deserve to be happy without waiting for disaster to hit.
Brandon understands where I'm coming from and he does his best to show me every day that things won't be the same way they were. There's a level of love and respect I'm not use to, but every day I wake up remembering how completely blessed I am to feel THIS type of love.
To anyone who was in a toxic relationship and is learning their new normal; give it time. You will learn what it means and what it feels like to be loved and respected. You'll be uncomfortable at first, you'll think that every nice thing being said is sarcastic. You'll cringe at the niceness and question everything being said. One day you'll be okay, you'll learn how to accept compliments, you'll learn that when they say "have fun with your friends" they mean it. Give it time.